One man who is determined to reduce the number of deaths from snakebite in India is Dr Ian Simpson, a British herpetologist who has worked with the WHO and helped to draw up India’s first national protocol for treating snakebites. The idea is to get antivenom out to rural areas, because delays in reaching hospitals are the biggest cause of death. He is frustrated by the number of people he meets who go to traditional healers for treatment instead of heading straight to hospital. Many people visit healers and subsequently recover from their bites, but Simpson says this is because the majority of snakebites are not actually poisonous.
In Costa Rica a biologist gave me one last piece of advice about what to do if bitten by a snake. The poison circulates around the body in your bloodstream, so the lower you can keep your heart rate, the slower the poison will spread around your body. His advice is to keep very calm on your way to hospital so that your heart does not begin to race, despite knowing you have received a bite that could prove lethal. Good luck with that one!
And as for jellyfish stings, rinsing with saltwater or vinegar can relieve the pain of some stings, while fresh water makes them worse and urine makes no difference. So I hate to be the one who tells you this, Monica, but Joey and Chandler needn’t have bothered trying to pee on you after all.
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